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Church Sound Files: In The End They’re Just Tools

It's often said that a great engineer can creat a better mix on a Mackie than a poor engineer on a Midas.
This article is provided by ChurchTechArts.

The other day, I was going through my show file for our upcoming Christmas production.

It’s a massive show and we’re doing all kinds of tricks with the SD8.

This got me to thinking about how blessed we are here at Coast Hills to have these great tools at our disposal.

We have an amazing facility, the SD8, a deep mic locker (though I still want a few more…), a decent lighting rig and some super-bright projectors.

My deeper realization was that not all of you have this arsenal at your disposal, and that this could create a little bit of ”gear envy.”

But the truth of the matter is I was making great mixes back when I had nothing but an SR32 and a single outboard effects unit. That’s not because I’m so great, it’s because it’s what we do.

Really good tech’s can make a great experience happen regardless of the equipment at their disposal.

Sure, it’s a lot more fun to mix (and put together a huge show) on an SD8 than it would be on an SR32, but I’ve done plenty of big shows on a small mixer (usually supplemented by other small mixers).

As recently as a few years ago, I myself had gear envy. In taking with some of my friends who were mixing on Profiles and Venues, I felt I could do more if I had one of those as compared to the little 01V we were saddled with.

When I moved on to my present position and started mixing on the PM5D, I realized not much really changed. Even when we got the SD8, my mixing style hasn’t changed that much.

The mixes sound a little better because I have a few more tools at my disposal, but overall, I still approach the basics of mixing the same way I did before.

If anything, my mixes are sounding better this year than last not because of the equipment I have, but because I’m constantly studying, learning, trying new things and growing as an engineer. When I find myself in our student room with a little MG32, I can still pull together a good mix.

My point in all this is that we all have a certain set of tools at our disposal, be that a large and expensive set, or a small and inexpensive one. But it doesn’t matter.

It’s often said that a great engineer can put together a better mix on a Mackie than a poor engineer on a Midas.

Personally, I’d rather strive to be the great engineer as opposed to relying on the best gear. How about you?

Do you tend to find yourself mixing on large and expensive rigs, a setup which is small but functional, or something in between? Let me know in the comments below!

Mike Sessler is the Technical Director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, CA. He has been involved in live production for over 20 years and is the author of the blog, Church Tech Arts . He also hosts a weekly podcast called Church Tech Weekly on the TechArtsNetwork.

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